nissan mind-reading.automotiveIT

Nissan and the EPFL university are testing mind-reading systems with a wheelchair (Photo: EPFL)

It's the thought that counts in a new Nissan Europe research project.

The Japanese carmaker, together with the Lausanne Technical University (EPFL) is studying whether brain waves can actually direct a vehicle.

"After scanning the thought patterns of its driver, the car of tomorrow will be able to predict its next move," Nissan said in a press release.

EPFL has been doing advanced work on Brain Machine Interface (BMI) systems that allow disabled users to maneuver their wheelchairs by thought transference alone. "The next stage is to adapt the BMI processes to the car - and driver - of the future," Nissan said.

Jose del R. Millan, who leads the project, said such a system would improve safety. "The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them," he said.

The main obstacle in creating a production-ready system is that the computer power that would be required is exceptionally high. That's why the Nissan-EPFL collaboration is using statistical analysis to predict a driver's intentions and evaluate a driver's attitude and approach to his driving environment.

The software would measure brain activity, look at eye movement patterns and scan the environment around the car in conjunction with the car's own sensors. That should make it feasible to predict a driver's plans and then assist with the maneuver.

Nissan said the program is part of a company-wide effort to develop new technologies that will make driving safer and easier.

A video about the project can be seen here: Nissan's mind-reading project